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Exploring a novel immunotherapy: cooperation of endogenous CD8+ t-cells and exogenous, allogeneic CD4+ t-cells.

The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Heather Symons
Grant Type: 
Young Investigator Grants
Year Awarded: 
Type of Childhood Cancer: 
General Pediatric Cancer
Project Description: 

An individual's immune system should be capable of recognizing growing tumor cells as foreign and destroy them, as is done with viral and bacterial infections. Evidence for this in humans includes the spontaneous regression of certain cancers such as neuroblastoma. One possible explanation for why this does not happen with all cancers is that growing tumors do not provide a danger signal to the immune system, and thus, do not activate the immune system to kill. This model of immunity is based on the idea that the immune system destroys cells that are "dangerous" or damaging, not cells that are simply foreign. The applicant, Heather Symons, has been investigating ways to awaken a cancer-bearing individual's immune system with help from donor immune cells in order to force cancerous cells to appear dangerous. Partially matched donor immune cells can provide the necessary "help" that the host immune system needs to attack malignant cells. The applicant is also exploring how the host and donor immune system may cooperate to promote anti-tumor immunity.  Given the extremely poor prognosis of children with refractory or recurrent hematologic and solid tumor malignancies, Dr. Symons hopes to translate her laboratory findings to clinical trials for this high-risk patient population.